This issue of Transfers features five individual essays critically engaging with the promises promoted alongside new methods and purposes of mobility. Two essays, Martin Emanuel’s “From Victim to Villain: Cycling, Traffic Policy, and Spatial Conflicts in Stockholm, circa 1980” and Andrew V. Clark and colleagues’ “The Rise and Fall of the Segway: Lessons for the Social Adoption of Future Transportation,” circle around a core theme of Transfers with their fresh look at transportation, its vehicles, and its methods; two others, Noah Goodall’s “More Than Trolleys: Plausible, Ethically Ambiguous Scenarios Likely to Be Encountered by Automated Vehicles” and Gal Hertz’s “From Epistemology of Suspicion to Racial Profiling: Hans Gross, Mobility and Crime around 1900,” look at mobility’s social side. Fascinatingly consistent are the adjectives and adverbs that qualify the promises that are made for these technologies. Segways, for instance, were sustainable, enviro-friendly, shared. Smart, personalized, and robotic are some of the commonly invoked terms in the growing literature on this particular PMD (personal mobility device). Adverbial are the benefits of automated driving too: safe and liberating, both values desired by a nineteenth-century urbanized Austrian society that imagined the city as a space of settled inhabitants free of migrants and hence also free of crimes.
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The Politics of “Intolerability” in the Danish Migration and Integration Regimes
Julia Suárez-Krabbe and Annika Lindberg
Across Northern European states, we can observe a proliferation of “hostile environments” targeting racialized groups. This article zooms in on Denmark and discusses recent policy initiatives that are explicitly aimed at excluding, criminalizing, and inflicting harm on migrants and internal “others” by making their lives “intolerable.” We use the example of Danish deportation centers to illustrate how structural racism is institutionalized and implemented, and then discuss the centers in relation to other recent policy initiatives targeting racialized groups. We propose that these policies must be analyzed as complementary bordering practices: externally, as exemplified by deportation centers, and internally, as reflected in the development of parallel legal regimes for racialized groups. We argue that, taken together, they enact and sustain a system of apartheid.
“Epitaphic” features two poems that were written to speak to the poet's interest in commemorating or capturing past moments, events, or persons. “Topographies” is concerned with the interplay between transience and permanence—the passing of time, changing relationships, but also the altering of emotional and physical landscapes. The poem largely speaks to a process of loss and memory, both on a macrocosmic or geographical level, and on a smaller, intimate level. Similarly, “Thanatos” connects with the broad theme of loss, particularly humanity's inability to recognize, appease, or ameliorate the suffering of the animal Other.
From Epistemology of Suspicion to Racial Profiling
Hans Gross, Mobility, and Crime around 1900
Hans Gross (1847–1915), the founder of Austro-Hungarian criminology, developed an epistemology of suspicion that targeted and profiled individuals as well as social and ethnic groups based mainly on their uprootedness and displacement. The scientific practices of observation and analysis he implemented in criminal investigations were anchored in epistemological assumptions that redefined and questioned both the object of study (namely, the criminal) and the subject (the investigator). By transferring scientific ideas and methods from the natural and social science into police work and judicial processes, Gross’s study of crime merged biological and social perspectives. This meant the categories of deviancy were attached to foreignness and social difference, migration and effects of urban life. His epistemology was underlined by social Darwinism, and his forensics, far from being an objective study, advocated what is today known as racial profiling.
From Sickle to Pen
Women's Education and Everyday Mobility in Rural Pakistan
Muhammad A. Z. Mughal
This article discusses the relationship between women’s education and their everyday mobility in the rural areas of Punjab, Pakistan. Based on an ethnographic case study from a village in Southern Punjab, information from semi-structured interviews and observations is used to demonstrate an enhanced access to education has altered women’s everyday mobility trends. However, questions regarding women’s empowerment remain unresolved. Although some rural women have always been engaged in agricultural activities, there have been limitations on their mobility due to cultural sensitivities. I conclude the nature of social and socio-spatial relationships is being negotiated in some cultural contexts of rural Punjab through the changing facets of women’s mobility associated with modern education.
From Victim to Villain
Cycling, Traffic Policy, and Spatial Conflicts in Stockholm, circa 1980
This article employs a social practice approach to analyze the boom and bust of cycling in Stockholm around 1980, in the context of broader socioeconomic trends and under the influence of new cyclists, bicycle innovation, and local traffic policy. Within a predominantly car-based city traffic regime, which rendered some mobility practice more legitimate than others, measures intended for cyclists were taken at the expense of pedestrians rather than motorists. Because of a blend of more cyclists, faster bicycles, and design choices based on the car as norm, the image of the cyclist transformed from that of the victim (of automobility) to the villain, and, for this reason, cycling was less easily supported by local politicians. Combined with the second wave of automobility in the 1980s, bicycle policy and planning lost its steam, and cycling declined.
Jelena Tošić and Annika Lems
This contribution introduces the collection of texts in this special section of Migration and Society exploring contemporary patterns of im/mobility between Africa and Europe. It proposes an ontological-epistemological framework for investigating present-day movements via three core dimensions: (1) a focus on im/mobility explores the intertwinement of mobility and stasis in the context of biographical and migratory pathways and thus goes beyond a binary approach to migration; (2) an existential and dialogical-ethnographic approach zooms in on individual experiences of im/mobility and shows that the personal-experiential is not apolitical, but represents a realm of everyday struggles and quests for a good life; and (3) a genealogical-historical dimension explores present-day migratory quests through their embeddedness within legacies of (post)colonial power relations and interconnections and thus counteracts the hegemonic image of immigration from Africa as having no history and legitimacy.
The Long Homecoming
Ghanaian Migrant Business and Power in Veneto, Italy
This article discusses the challenge of returning home after years abroad from the perspective of Ghanaian labor migrants in northern Italy. It seeks to explore how Ghanaian migrants after years of hard work still find themselves fundamentally estranged from Italy and constantly must navigate day-to-day experiences of bigotry and discrimination in the workplace. Yet the migrants realize that returning home to Ghana is not as straightforward as they might have imagined when they set out, and how to protect advances upon returning to a home country that has changed rapidly during their years in Italy is a recurring subject of concern. Based on ethnographic vignettes, the article will explore West African migrants’ everyday struggles in Italy's segregated and crisis-hit labor market.
“Looking for One's Life”
Trapped Mobilities and Adventure in Morocco
This article examines how “irregular” migrants from West and Central Africa make sense of their trapped mobility in Morocco: for many, crossing into Europe has become almost impossible, returning to home countries “empty-handed” a shameful option, and staying very difficult in the face of repeated infringement of their rights. I explore the limits of contemporary depictions of a “migration crisis” that portray migrants south of the Mediterranean Sea as simply en route to Europe and fail to engage with (post)colonial entanglements. The article recalibrates the examination of migrants’ lived experiences of stasis and mobility by exploring the emic notion of “adventure” among migrants “looking for their lives.” A focus on how migrants articulate their own (im)mobility further exposes and defies the pitfalls of abstract concepts such as “transit migration,” which is misleading in its implication of a fixed destination.
Migration as Survival
Withheld Stories and the Limits of Ethnographic Knowability
How to write about survival? How to tell survival? By exploring manifold reasons to withhold a story, I shed light on the limits of ethnographic knowledge production and the politics of storytelling that mobilize one story and silence another. Through engaging with the fragmented narrative of a Moroccan survivor of a shipwreck in Spanish waters in 2003, I reconceptualize the movement called “migration as survival” by theorizing it as an ethnographic concept. I explore the different temporalities of survival as living through a life-threatening event and as living on in an unjust world. These interrelated temporalities of survival are embedded in the afterlife of the historical time of al-Andalus and the resurgent fear of the Muslim “Other.” By suggesting an existentially informed political understanding of the survival story, I show how the singularity of the survivor is inscribed in a regime of mobility that constrains people and their stories.